Joe and Ali Olson are living their dream.
After just eight years in the workforce, the couple, both in their early 30s, were able to quit their jobs as public school teachers in August 2015, retire, and begin travelling the world — now with their one-year-old daughter, Annabelle, in tow.
By living frugally and finding a good side hustle — in their case, real estate — the couple was able to achieve financial independence relatively quickly. After purchasing their Las Vegas home at a steep discount in 2007, they started scooping up rental properties for cheap, a result of the battered housing prices during the financial crisis. They lost money at first, but eventually the market flipped and they began to turn a profit.
But even as their net worth rose, they didn’t succumb to lifestyle inflation. The pair continued to save 75% of their income and resided in their 400-square-foot home.
Fifteen properties later, they were able to retire as millionaires and tackle new dreams: travelling the world and starting a family. (You can follow along with their travels on their blog, Adventuring Along.)
Despite traversing the globe for over a year — so far they have hiked El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile walk, spent three months in Istanbul, where they had their baby in January 2016, and house-sat in Australia — the couple hasn’t strayed far from their frugal days, so they know a thing or two about seeing the world on a budget.
Their best advice? Move slowly and be strategic about where you visit.
“Rushing from place to place means you are paying much more in transportation costs, have to constantly eat out, and stay in more expensive places,” Joe told Business Insider.
Your three highest spending categories are almost always going to be housing, transportation, and food, so the longer you’re able to stay in one place, the more you’re able to mitigate those costs.
“You can rent an apartment (using a site like Airbnb) and get a monthly discount versus staying in a hotel for a short period (which is more expensive per night),” Joe explains. “You do less transportation days overall, and can wait and look for cheap plane flights. And you can stay in a place with a kitchen, and shop at local grocery stores. You’ll enjoy strolling around and getting to know the neighbourhoods — not only is the experience more relaxed and authentic, it’s much cheaper as well!”
Ali recommends choosing a variety of places to visit, mixing in affordable destinations with more expensive ones.
“There are so many beautiful and interesting places to visit, but if you only go to London and resorts in the Caribbean, your money won’t go very far,” she told Business Insider. “Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia are full of fantastic places that can cost less than you might believe. You can have a lovely $3 meal after a day visiting the Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia. Why not intersperse places like that with the pricey ones?”
All told, there’s plenty of time to see the world — why rush it?
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